SOURCE: Taken from an article by Leslie Vernick
Question: My husband and I have been close friends with a couple at church for 4 years. But over time I’ve realized that my friendship with this woman is destructive. She doesn’t respect my boundaries, is critical and negative and when I try to talk with her or stand up to her, she explodes in anger or says I’m crazy and need to be in a hospital. My husband and I have had enough and want to end this relationship. Is this OK, or are we just running away?
Answer: In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul says as much as possible, be at peace with all people. It seems to me that you have tried to work out the problems in your relationship with this woman to no avail. She won’t hear you, won’t respect you, and won’t change her behavior that you find so hurtful. Therefore I don’t think you are running away, but rather you accept that this friendship is destructive towards you and therefore, you can’t allow her to be close to you any longer.
Since you’ve had such a close friendship for many years, I understand how hard it is to tell her you are done with your relationship. The next time she approaches you to “talk” about things, suggest to her that you go to a third person for mediation.
Say something like this: “We’ve tried talking about this many times, and we haven’t made any progress. I don’t want to talk about it anymore without a third party present so that both of us can get a new perspective, hopefully we can get unstuck and bring some healing to our relationship.”
Being with a third party might defuse her aggressive tendencies toward you, so that she can really hear your concerns and God might use the other person to help her see what she is doing more clearly. If she refuses mediation, then at least you have made every effort to bring about a true peace to your relationship rather than just cave into her demands. I would not talk with her alone any longer since she has been verbally abusive and explosive.
I also want you to know that God doesn’t require us to be in a close friendship with every person. It’s not even possible. Jesus ministered to many people but was only close with a few. Yes, we are to love everybody but we can’t be in close relationship with everybody.
When a relationship is difficult and/or destructive, you can make it better by yourself by guarding your own heart and tongue, but you will never make it healthy and good all by yourself. If she can’t look at herself and what she’s doing in the relationship dance, then at this time you’ll need to accept that.
If you’ve done all you can to try to turn this relationship around and nothing has worked, it is time to step back from it for you both to get some healing.
Continue to pray for her and keep your heart open to the possibility of reconciliation in the future. Perhaps you may never be close again but with God’s help you can be at peace with one another.